How to Work Out Even When You’re Busy

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Ditch the excuses by squeezing in those short bursts of exercise to get your heart pumping anywhere, any time!

Excuses flow like a newborn baby’s tears when it comes to working out. In fact, many of us (myself included) actually cry like babies when trying to figure out how to fit in the recommended 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise. Luckily, we have options. You don’t have to wake up at 5am to go for a run before work. (Is there anybody who actually enjoys doing this?) Instead work on squeezing in short bursts of exercise throughout the week, which will still lead to major health benefits without the added stress of trying to make it to the gym.

The American Heart Association says that any amount of movement benefits your health, and working out in five to ten-minute increments throughout the day is just as beneficial as one long, 30-minute sweat session. Whether you are in the car, in the office or traveling, try out some of these moves to get your heart pumping in no time!

How to Workout: In the Car

Unfortunately, singing Carrie Underwood at the top of your lungs on your way to work probably won’t burn too many calories (although it is a great stress reliever). One easy way to build muscle is by squeezing a rubber ball with your free hand at red lights or in the parking lot. The Gaiam Restore Hand Therapy Kit ($7.19), available at Target, comes with three different balls with different resistance levels. Simply squeeze as hard as you can, as often as you can, for five minutes and then switch hands to build strong forearms, hands and fingers.

You can also use your car as a tool to help increase your fitness level. We’ve all heard the advice to park father away from the store to get a few extra minutes of walking in your day, but you can also use your car as an exercise prop. Plant your feet on the ground and place both hands on the trunk to do push-ups, or open the door and stand on your tiptoes on the edge of the car, lifting yourself up and down to work your calves. The possibilities are endless!


How to Workout: At the Office

Once we clock in for the day, many of us sit for eight hours. To combat this sedentary lifestyle, more companies now offer adjustable desks that allow employees to stand for a while (which can reduce your risk of many health issues). If you aren’t one of the blessed few with this cool desk, you can still get up for a few minutes every hour to stretch your legs, increase your circulation and get your heart pumping. Wear an Apple Watch (starting at $399 for series 4) for reminders to get up and move for at least one minute every hour. It will also track your exercise minutes and active calories burned throughout the day, encouraging you to meet your personal goals.

Another way to sneak in movement is by replacing your regular office chair with a stability ball, like the GoFit 75cm Stability Ball from Dick’s Sporting Goods ($19.99). Not only is sitting on this ball fun, but you won’t even realize you’re working out as your muscles naturally flex and relax to keep you upright.

Of course, you don’t need special tools to get more exercise. Simply taking the stairs instead of the elevator, doing a couple squats while on a phone call and lunging your way to the break room are all excellent ways to squeeze a little more fitness into your day.  

How to Workout: while traveling

Even if you’re out of town on vacation or for business, working out is possible. Swim laps in the pool or lift weights in the hotel gym if you have time; if not, crank out a few easy exercises in your room before your day gets started. Focus on moves that combine cardio and strength training like burpees. Stand with your feet shoulder-length apart, and jump in the air with both arms raised above your head; then, drop down into a squat, do a push-up and repeat. This builds muscle in your core, legs, arms and back, while increasing your heart rate at the same time.

Stop making excuses. Even a few minutes of exercise a day can help you become healthier, lower your risk of cancer and heart disease, boost your mood and so much more according to the AHA. So dry your tears, lace up your tennis shoes and get moving!


Sydni Ellis grew up in the great state of Texas, where she learned to love chips and salsa and swimming pools. She has her master’s degree in journalism from the University of North Texas, and some of her passions include writing, traveling and re-reading the Harry Potter series every chance she gets. In the spirit of spontaneity, Sydni lives her life with a pen in one hand and her video camera in the other; ready to capture the next great story.